Most helpful critical review
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Horrible Customer Service, Mediocre Camera
on November 7, 2013
To make this easier for all reader formats, I will put the quick version at the top and argue the matter below it:
Cons: 1)I have owned two Panasonic cameras that were supposed to be rugged and waterproof, and neither were. Both failed in less than 1 year, both with less than 3 exposures to water.
2) Their customer service is horrible. I have spent many calls trying to work with them to fix my cameras, and they have some of the worst customer service I have had in years, maybe even my whole life.
3) Expensive to maintain the waterproofing.
4) Bad warranty
Pros: 1) Pictures are fine. You could get better image quality (pictures and video) with a less expensive camera though.
2) My wife likes the outside color :)
Further details: I consider myself an amateur photographer. I usually shoot landscape photography and portraiture. I ski, snowboard, snorkel and SCUBA dive (not all at the same time). So it just makes sense to buy a camera that is compact and waterproof for some of these activities. Years ago, you would buy a camera and waterproof housing. The O-rings would eventually fail on the housings, especially if they were not cleaned and lubricated. Most large camera makers now offer an "all-in-one" option. I knew of a few friends who had the Panasonic Lumix and based on their testimonial and some online research, decided to buy into this product line.
For the same purchase price, it is a fact that you can buy another camera that is not made to be "weatherproof" that provides better photo and video quality. This matters if you do not use the camera by water or around harsh conditions. If you only use it during nice weather and on land, stop reading and buy something else!!! If you read Digital Photo magazine, August 2013, it lists its top 5 underwater cameras. Panasonic does not make the list. Not in the top 5!! Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax. No Panasonic. Tells me Panasonic is doing something wrong.
By personal experience, the one I bought was taken on a few snorkeling trips. With the 3rd exposure to water, in less than 5 feet of water, its water seals failed. The camera never turned back on. My wife was upset that she couldn't take pictures the rest of the trip. We had to send the camera back to Panasonic for repair. In their warranty contract, they can repair the camera with refurbished parts, or just send you back a refurbished camera. Whatever they decide, you have no choice. So, they sent us back a refurbished one.
We went on our next vacation 6 months later. 1st time this camera was put in the water it failed. Let me repeat that, 1st time. In under 20 feet of water. It is rated to be waterproof much lower than that. Called customer service multiple times. Come to find out they only warranty their replacements for 3 months. It doesn't provoke consumer confidence when a product that should be "good as new" is only warrantied for 3 months. Because ours is outside of that, they want me to agree to ship it to them and pay for whatever they find is wrong. No joke, I talked to a supervisor at customer service, she said, "we will send you a shipping label if you agree to repair your camera for a charge." I said, "What is the charge?" Her reply, "We will have to inspect it 1st. You have to agree to pay the charge, whatever it is when we determine it, before we will send you a shipping label. Do you want me to send the shipping label?" After three calls and two hours on the phone, that is the best customer service they had to offer. The first time I called, I spoke with a very reasonable guy, however, the statements and promises he made were later cancelled by another supervisor, and they never called to tell me.
Lastly, as you will read in other reviews, it costs a lot to maintain the cameras waterproof rating. If you are lucky enough to have your camera last 1 year, you have to shell out the cash to have the seals replaced. You would be foolish to do it yourself, but you can try.
Overall, If you have read this far, please just buy another camera. How many reviews have I written in the past 5 years.... 2. Why two? Because I don't want people to have the same experience with a substandard product. You work hard for your money. Spend it on something that has a better track record. Enjoy your vacation without worry.